I'm not sure, it may have been the top bars, I took a strand of hemp cord, stretched it the length of the bar and melted beeswax to cement the cord to the bar. I got this idea, on line. The night after I released the queen, I went outside to check on the hive; below the hive, there was a mass of bees, I took my fingers, broke it up enough to see the white dot on the queen. I scooped the bees up and put them back in the topbar, was stung several times in the process. I'm pretty sure I got the queen, when I gathered them up. There seemed to be less bees after that, they built some comb, it was accross bars.
I've decided to go another route next year. I bought 5 rigid plastic frames with foundation, cut them to accomodate the inside dimensions of the top bar. I intend to use those as my initial brood frames. For the rest of the top bars, I intend to mill a groove along the length of the top bars, cut regular foundation in 2" strips and glue the foundation inside the groove. I'm betting that will remedy that building comb accross bars, problem.
I also intend to frame some top bars, keeping in mind, the bee space, to fit the inside of the tbh, so I can wire in brood, pollen or honey comb. Next year I'm determined to succeed.
Bees may leave due to a number of reasons. Understanding what they are looking for, may help in the future. Read about swarm trap success, and some of the info can be applied to installing packages.
I know some pick really sunny locations (which we want for healthy hives), and then close down the entrance thinking this is best for a package, and then they place sugar syrup with funky smelling syrup for the bees, and so on. Then the bees up and move.
It may not happen often. But it does happen. Lowering the chances that it may happen is a good thing. Understanding why bees rejected your offered home can be a learning experience.
there is one other factor, which I failed to mention, I finished putting that TBH together, the day before I picked up my package, I painted the outside with a mixture of boiled raw linseed oil and beeswax, the day before I installed the package.
One thing I recommend is to move those entrances down toward the end of the hive. Phil Chandler was a strong proponent of middle entrances, but I believe he's come around to the thinking that end entrances or entrances toward the end are superior in the long run! By starting them at one end and allowing them to move in one direction all of their honey stores should be at one end toward fall. If you start in the middle and if you allow them to build in both directions you'll end up with surplus honey on both sides and potential starvation unless you go rearrange it all toward fall.
baxter, in my opinion, painting the outside had nothing to do with them leaving. In a post below, I have some pictures of the bees in my hive. It was built in a day and painted just like yours and the bees were put in that same day.
I use a triangular top bar on mine and they are working on bar 11.
I also find that putting an old piece of comb and attaching it to the first top bar that you want them to build on, seems to help them stay around. I also put a few drops of lemongrass oil in the hives before adding the bees. Don't know if it helps, but it does not seem to hurt.
Good luck on the next ones, Robert
Did you have a screened bottom? And was it open? There has been a lot of talk online advocating and open sbb and that has resulted in a bunch of absconding bees. I have asked around a lot and have had at least a dozen people from all over tell me theirs absconded soon after installation with an open bottom.
That was another thing Phil advocated for a while, but he's in the UK, and the wet climate likely made a difference. He's backed off from that somewhat now.
I think the whole wax string thing is a weak way to make comb guides, and have heard of a lot of cross-combing with that method. I have used three methods all have been great in terms of attachment and straight combs:
1 - table saw kerf down the length of the bar, 1/4" deep. Then glue a strip of wood into it that is 3/4" to 1" top-to-bottom. That way, you get a solid glue connection in the slice, and a good 1/2" - 3/4" tap descending below the bar to connect comb to.
2 - buy really small corner molding, cut to length and nail to the bars down the middle,
3 - cut the tongue edge of 3/4" tongue and groove lumber off, cut to length and nail or staple down the middle of the bars.
Most of the bars I have made use one of the latter two methods, as I find it easier, and stronger. No glue speeds things up for me. If you have a air nailers or staplers - these latter two methods are cake.
Also, they don't need to be waxed, but if you feel you want to (and I do) I recommend just rubbing hard wax on the comb guides. You get an unbreakable coating, and it's fast and efficient.
As a last note - make sure that your comb guides are safely shorter than your bars. A mistake people make is trying to get too perfect a fit, getting them too close to the sides. I was one of them. If you make your guides a perfect length, so that you get no side-to-side sliding of the bars over the outer side edges of the box - seems logical with no bees - but you will pay later. If the sides bow inward, the bars suddenly don't fit. Or if the bees glue things a bit, the bars suddenly don't fit. Also, you try to move bars from one hive to another and the slight variation means - you guessed it - the bars don't fit. As a result, I recommend leaving them a full two inches shorter than the bar on each end. That's all the guide they need, and it saves you considerable material over the course of a hundred bars or so.
If you can find some comb to hang on a bar or two before installing - that should help keep them there, and helps them get straight comb going.